Now that the Eternal Summers and Nada Surf show at Metro Chicago has had exactly one week to marinade, it is time to recognize the sheer magnitude of what happened the night of Dec. 8, 2012.
A local band called Bailiff opened the show, and set the tone. This Progressive Blues band has only been around for a couple of years, but their stage presence and unbelievable balance of bass, drums and guitar left the early crowd spellbound.
Josh Siegel, lead singer and guitarist, was stoic and smooth in stature and sound. He hardly moved when he sang, but the music shook the room with soul. Ren Mathew, the drummer, was beyond great, and bassist, Owen O’Malley hauled a heavy load; he wrenched the scale with that instrument, and it was just so comfortable that way.
Eternal Summers came on next, playing tracks from their debut album, “Silver”, their 2012 sophomore album, “Correct Behavior”, and songs from the album they plan to record in a few months. The band seems to be rapidly evolving, adding more layers, then thickening them as they go.
When they recorded “Silver”, the band consisted of just Nicole Yun on guitar and vocals, and Daniel Cundiff on drums, and they were just getting comfortable with hi-fi. For “Correct Behavior,” they added bassist, Jonathan Woods, to their ensemble. For their first two albums, they emitted a sort of light, fun and catchy California sound. Their new songs sound like they’re getting way heavier on drums and bass, really hitting home on that Pop Punk vibe. This rapidly evolving band is going places fast, and it seems like there is always something new to check out.
Nada Surf, a dinosaur of a band when compared to the two previous acts, came on last. Most “older” bands are like a friend’s grandfather who you’re worried might tell a depressing war story and then fall asleep and make weird mouth noises. But Matthew Caws whips out his guitar and starts shredding. Then, suddenly, there are hundreds of people screaming for him to play new stuff, old stuff, and everything in between, and then you realize, wait, Caws is still way too young to have any grandkids, and almost everyone who is here, is here for Nada Surf.
This band is now celebrating their 20th year of existence, and it is incredibly clear they’ve been in the industry for a long time… in a really good way. Caws is a veteran of crowd pleasing, and the audience took complete advantage. Plenty of people decided they wanted to scream something to be part of the show, and Caws was beyond gracious and patient. Eventually, the band’s mastery of performing won everyone over and even the most attention-starved fans realized it was time to be quiet and listen.
They played more than 20 songs all across the spectrum of their career, and the energy and intensity only grew with the length of the set list. “Killians Red” off their album “Let Go” got a great fan response, and “80 Windows,” a bonus track off of “The Proximity Effect”, was particularly well-played. All band members seemed to put everything they had into the show.
Doug Gillard—lead guitarist on this tour—was introduced by Caws as his “guitar hero.” And he was not exaggerating. Then, as always, Daniel Lorca was a master on bass, manipulating the strings, and the whole instrument with crazy dexterity, smoking cigarettes all the while. And Ira Elliot killed it on the drums, stopping between songs to shoot the audience with a fake laser gun. Maybe trying to use future technology to suspend the moment just a little longer. Unfortunately, though, the fun couldn’t last forever.
Near the end of the show, while “The Way you Wear your Head” was playing, Yun and Cundiff of Eternal Summers were visible, dancing and singing along backstage. Their awe was palpable, like they were the enthralled next generation, ready to absorb whatever they could learn, and possibly melt minds at shows just like this one day. It was one of those gigs where all the bands found a particularly perfect groove they’d practiced for for years, and everyone was somehow invisibly connected. It kind of felt like magic.
Nada Surf’s encore was “See These Bones,” “Always Love” and “Blankest Year”. For their last song, Caws let the crowd join him in his catchy expletive in the chorus. And everyone was glad to oblige.
Once the show was over, everyone just wandered away, spellbound, tired, with minds blown. Most people were likely unable to hear, but when something like this happens, it’s best to sit quietly and let everything sink in for exactly one week.